Ensiferum, Live in London

Finland’s folk metal chieftans rouse the masses

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For anyone unaware of how passionate folk metal fans are, or who thinks the style may have lost its appeal now the novelty has worn off, the queue of metalheads (some warpainted) stretching off around the corner an hour before doors would be informative.

And it’s an enthusiasm mirrored once everyone is inside, with the cheerfully mournful (in that way Finnish bands seem to do better than everyone else) OMNIUM GATHERUM [6] getting a warm reception, not least from the lady down the front who yells “We fucking love you!” between every song so loud you can hear it at the back bar. The band themselves are perfectly slick and with some gorgeous melodies, but occasionally duelling guitars need a little more oomph underneath them to convey fully. Still good, mind.

INSOMNIUM [7] are rather more convincing, even if some dodgy tuning in the occasional use of clean vocals detracts from the otherwise crystalline perfection of their melody. The rammed room fills with cheers and bobbing heads in view everywhere you turn, as the band’s sumptuous guitar tone carries warm, strangely uplifting misery to every corner.

That said, the reaction to ENSIFERUM [8] has to be seen to be believed, as seething movement whirls the throng at the front into a maelstrom of humanity. There’s a gloriously unselfconscious quality to Ensiferum that creates an instant connection with the crowd; the band are who they are and enjoy themselves whatever anyone else thinks – just like their fanbase. The joyful aggression of their folky fun makes this a breeze, too.

Predictably, the crowd sing the intro to Victory Song so loudly, you’d think you were at a Maiden gig and Fear Of The Dark had just started, but slightly less expected is the huge pit that erupts when country-cum-disco song Two Of Spades drops – and everyone knows all the words, despite the album having only been out a month. By the time the bandmembers swap roles for an encore of a Breaking The Law cover, switching back for vivacious renditions of From Afar and Token Of Time, and a deafeningly sung-along Iron, the band can be in no doubt that this crowd loves them.

It’s rare to see this level of passion from any London audience – unless you go to folk metal gigs. It’s heartening to witness./o:p